Tag Archives: memoirs

#ReadingChallenge Try a New Section in the Bookstore

25 Jan

Normally I take old posts and rewrite them every Monday, which is technically what I’m still doing, but I say that lightly in this case. Back October 25, 2012, I wrote a book review for a debut author, and I discussed why I think the debut author section is my favorite section in the bookstore. (You can read that post here.) Today, instead of writing a review, I want to discuss my favorite sections in the bookstore and why I love them. But why is this important? For readers and writers alike, it’s important to challenge yourself. Step outside your box, pick up a new author, try a strange genre, flip through a poetry collection. It just might help you with your writing. You might even find your next favorite book.

Here are three sections I tried and learned from!

I’d love to hear about your favorite sections too.

New Author Section:

I particularly love starting my bookstore journey in this section, because it challenges me to read new voices and new types of stories that I may not have found otherwise. Anything and everything gets placed in this section. Drama, literature, poetry, graphic novels, anything. I have seen it all in this section, which is why this section is a go-to area if you’re in the mood for challenging yourself. It’s also EXTRA exciting, because the novels are normally by authors you’ve never heard of before. (There are exceptions, meaning if an author hasn’t been published in ten years, they might still appear here.) But it’s well worth a skim. In fact, I found my favorite graphic novel of 2015 in this section—The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins.

new

Memoirs and Biographies:

What is a better section for learning about life than reading about people’s literal lives? I love memoirs in particular, so I know I’m biased, but I think memoirs can also force you to step outside your boundaries. (I even love non-memoir memoirs. You know, the ones that claim they are “fiction” but everyone and their mother knows they aren’t…Granted, not found in this section, but that’s another story.) Last year, I found one of my all-time favorite reads in this section. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, which is about a girl deciding to work in a crematory. It’s a fascinating exploration of mortality within different cultures.

What Our Staff Recommends:

I almost ALWAYS go to this section of the bookstore if the store has it. This is one of those delightful sections you can’t find online either (and it’s different in every store you go to). There’s normally a stack of books and one or two lines about why the staff recommends that particular read. Each review is generally done by a different staff member too, so you have a wonderful amount of variety in this section. Last year, I found Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan in this section, and I fell in love.

I normally spend the majority of my time in the young adult section. I have to mention this section, because it’s my obviously my go-to genre. It’s the section I buy most of my books from, and I thought I’d mention that so you could see how it compares to the other section above.

It’s important to challenge yourself, whether you’re a reader or a writer, and challenging yourself can help you. Even if you just want to know more about other topics, you can expand your palate by reading. This is why I love reading so much!

Try to pick two sections you wouldn’t normally visit, and check it out this month.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

~SAT

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. CTP author Tamara Granthamwill be there, as well as NY Times Bestselling and USA Today Bestselling author Candice Gilmer. (I’ll know the other three authors soon!) I’d love to see you! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

Minutes Before Sunset, book 1:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrisebook 2:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylightbook 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

takefofytseve

You can read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire! 

Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.

Giveaway-image

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

20 Jun

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.

So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.

I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.

I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.

So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.

Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.

winner

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

8 Sep

Announcements: 

Take Me Tomorrow now has a book trailer, which I hope you’ll take a minute to watch, like, and share before you read today’s post! Thank you.

10 Cry-Worthy Books From My College Years

After I wrote Books That Changed My Childhood, I received a few emails asking me about my other novels, so I am going to continue sharing different types of reads that have affected my life. I’m also adding my favorite quotes! I’ll be honest. I started writing a list of novels that affected my high school years, but it got out of control, so I moved onto my college time only to realize most of the books did, in fact, make me cry.

Yes. That was a warning.

Most – if not all of these – made me cry. And if you’ve never cried at a novel, I recommend these because everyone should cry at a novel at least once in their reading lives.

cry

1. The Art of Racing the Rain by Garth Stein – Yes, this novel is told from a dog’s perspective. And yes, you can take a dog seriously. (If you think you can’t, trust me when I say you must read this book.) A friend recommended this novel to me, and I was hesitant when I picked it up in the bookstore. To my surprise, I read it in one sitting, even when my vision got blurry.

“Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot talk, so I listen very well.”

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – If you’ve ever though that first-person can’t be taken seriously, then, Ishiguro is here to prove you wrong. There are no other words to describe his prose in this novel. You will begin at childhood and grow into an adult, just like you did in real life. It will remind me of how you learned in life, and it will tear you apart.

“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”

3. The Unmemntioable by Erin Moure – Arguably one my favorite poetry collections if not my favorite. (I can never decide which one is my favorite.) I first read this in my poetry class at the University of Kansas, and I have continued to read it over and over ever since. The exploration of language, history, relationships, and identity is more than enough to cause emotional reflections.

“When there was no one left, it became nowhere. There were no more letters after the w.”

4. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – Cry-worthy? Debatable. But the emotions are just as strong. The awe could possibly bring tears to your eyes. They sure choked me up. But I mainly added this because it’s the perfect example of a graphic novel that proves all graphic novels can be taken seriously.

“It’s easy to become anything you wish . . . so long as you’re willing to forfeit your soul.”

5. When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka – This novel has never left me, perhaps because Otsuka never gives names to her characters. She forces you to become them, delicately and masterfully, before she explores Japanese concentration camps in the United States. This is one of those stories I lent out to someone and deeply regretted it when I didn’t get it back. I will have this book on my shelf again one day.

“He wondered if you could see the same moon in Lordsburg, or London, or even China, where all the men wore little black slippers, and he decided that you could, depending on the clouds. ‘Same moon,’ he whispered to himself, ‘same moon.'”

 6. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat – Not for the light-hearted. I first read this memoir after the earthquake in Haiti. I wish I could say more about it, but I fear that I would take away from the exploration of culture and identity if I did.

“Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring, and if you’re not careful, it will drown you.”

 7. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Again, not for the light-hearted. This is a memoir of a child solider, and it is also one of my favorite books. Right when you think you can handle his prose, he reminds you of his age, and you are torn apart, but you keep reading because his voice coaxes you to.

“We must strive to be like the moon.”

 8. One Day by David Nicholls – Maybe the emotions in this novel are a little too close to reality? Meet Dex and Em, two friends who continue to meet on the same day every year for…oh, you know, their whole lives. A definite reminder of how time passes, how much can happen, and how we change because of it all.

“You can live your whole life not realizing that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.”

9. Aimless Love by Billy Collins – Another poetry collection, but this is technically a few of his collections together. If you’re hesitant about poetry, I definitely recommend Collins because he is easy to slip into but complicated over time. You might not cry, but you might have to take a moment to feel like crying after reading a few of his poems.

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.”

 10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – Yes. I just admitted this. I cried when I read On the Road. I’m not sure why since it’s not necessarily a “sad” novel, but it was for me. The exploration and exploitation of Dean really brought the sadness out in me. I would get more into detail about how I feel about Dean and the other characters – which were definitely based off of real people – but I don’t want to spoil the story. On the Road is more than just a recount of drugs and sex in the Beat Generation. It’s forcing life when faced with living like you’re already dead.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Oh, just an extra. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I only debated this novel because I technically read it when I was fourteen, but I reread it later on, and I cried. Again. And at the theatre when I saw the adaptation. And when I got home and read it again. And again when I forced my friend to watch the movie.

I don’t purposely read novels that are turned into movies, but it might be interesting to note that these are also movie adaptations now: Never Let Me Go (I cried) and One Day (I almost cried.) On the Road (Okay. So I didn’t cry at this one. But the feels!)

So what novels or poems have brought tears to your eyes? Why? Share them below, and let’s have a cry fest! (A happy, artistic one, of course.) I’ll bring the tissues.

~SAT

Publishing Tips: Nonfiction

19 May

Quick announcement: if you can produce a review before the end of May, email me at shannonathompson@aol.com for a FREE copy of Minutes Before Sunset via Smashwords! 

I’m switching it up today! I normally talk about young-adult fiction, specifically sci-fi or fantasy, but I thought I’d leave a list of nonfiction journals where you all can submit your work to. I got this list from my Nonfiction Writing I class at the University of Kansas. The reasoning I’m including journals, rather than publishers, is simple: journals give an opportunity to get your name out there if you don’t already have something published, and they have a higher acceptance rate, depending on which one you’re submitting to. However, some of these journals also accept poetry, prose, and more, so check it out, even if you don’t write nonfiction. You might get something else published!

As an extra, I’m also including my three finalized personal essays from this class, so you all can see what I learned. (If you can recall, I wrote Writing Tips: How I Handle Rejection on March 23, 2013, and I included a first draft, which is now below, rewritten and edited.)

My essays: They will open as PDF files.

  • Flashbacks: This is the edited version of the only essay I’ve shared before. It’s about my mother’s death, along with my roommate’s death, and how these moments, along with other traumatic events, have affected my views on mortality.
  • My Weeklong Marriage and the Lying Truth: I’ve mentioned my vacation to Puerto Rico quite often, and there’s a reason for that. It was one of the most important vacations in my life, and this essay is about what I learned while I was there. However, it is explicit, but I don’t want to ruin the contents either by explaining.
  • Now[here]: This particular essay is about my life on the road. As many of you know, I have moved over fifteen times, and I’ve lived in five different states. This is where my desire for creativity began and how it formed somewhere beyond the window. This essay also includes quotes from Erin Moure’s The Unmemntioable.
This is my favorite photo taken during my vacation in Puerto Rico. I'm sharing this as a part of my essay, "My Weeklong Marriage and the Lying Truth."

This is my favorite photo taken during my vacation in Puerto Rico. I’m sharing this as a part of my essay, “My Weeklong Marriage and the Lying Truth.”

Nonfiction Journals: Now. This is a list of all of the journals we discussed in my class. I will add some information, but I can’t include everything (because there is A LOT of specifics.) If you’re interested in submitting, I highly encourage everyone to continue to read over the journal before doing so. This list is simply a collection where you can begin:

  • AGNI: Poetry, essays, fiction, creative nonfiction, autobiography, memoir, cross-genre, prose, narrative, and literary fiction. Accepted Sep. 1 and May 31.
  • Brevity: Publishes well-known and emerging writers. Work must be shorter than 750 words. Reads between May and September.
  • Ecotone: all forms of literature within a transition zone between two adjacent ecological communities. Reading period between Aug. 15 and Apr. 15.
  • The Iowa Review: nonfiction, but unsolicited manuscripts are accepted during the fall semester only.
  • The Georgia Review: nonfiction, specifically subjects against a broad perspective. Reading period between Aug. 16 – May 14.
  • The Gettysburg Review: essays over literature, art, science, history, film, and contemporary thought. Reading period is between Sep. 1 and May 31.
  • The Gulf Coast: accepts fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and reviews. Reading between Sep. 1 and March 1, but there are prizes and contests.
  • The Kenyon Review: short fiction and essays up to 7,500 words, poetry, plays, excerpts from larger works, and translated poetry or prose. Reading period is Sep. 15 through Jan. 15.
  • Missouri Review: nonfiction only. No restrictions on length or topic. But they only accept online submissions for $3.
  • New Letters: essays of fiction, nonfiction, and some poems. Most essays are between 3,000 and 5,000 words. No simultaneous submissions.
  • The Normal School: nonfiction, memoir, personal essays, and creative nonfiction with contemporary styles. Most interested in whatever goes against the norm. Literary short fiction, poetry, and culinary journalism, but no unsolicited criticism. Manuscripts read between Sep. 1 to Dec. 1 & Jan. 15 to Apr. 15.
  • N + 1: Instructions say to read a couple pieces to see if your genre fits. Submit if you decide it’s applicable.
  • The Fourth Genre: contemporary and creative nonfiction. Accepted between Aug. 15 – Nov. 30.
  • Threepenny Review: includes art from many different genres, including but not limited to, fiction, nonfiction, essays, memoirs, poetry, operas, plays, books, film, and photography. Submit whenever but multiple submissions will be ignored.
  • Under the Sun: creative nonfiction (no academic articles or review essays). Very short pieces (2-3 pages.) Manuscripts read between Aug. 15 – Jan. 2.

    If you want more information, I share a lot on my Facebook page! You can also ask me anything you'd like. Join by clicking here.

    If you want more information, I share a lot on my Facebook page! You can also ask me anything you’d like. Join by clicking here.

Good luck! Let me know if any of you submit and/or get published (or have been published) in these journals. I’d love to share the links with everyone as positive examples to help others be inspired into publication 😀

~SAT

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